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SHAW SAVORS THE MOMENT

For those Bills' fans who go back to the great teams of the 1960s, one of the more welcome sights of that time was Buffalo near the enemy goal line, a running play to the right with Billy Shaw swiftly pulling from his left guard position and burying a defender as one of his teammates carried the football into the end zone.

Those memories were re-awakened Saturday when Shaw was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Not only was it an unforgettable moment for him, but it was a tribute to all those Buffalo players who won American Football League championships in 1964 and '65. Shaw is the first player voted into the Hall whose entire career was spent in the AFL.

Back at his home in Taccoa, Ga., the 60-year-old Shaw spent a sleepless night waiting for Saturday morning's election and the results. "It was awful," he said. "Awful." He knew it was his last chance to get into the Hall, since senior candidates rarely get more than one chance.

As the announcement of the list of enshrined players was read at a nationally televised press conference by John Bankert, director of the Hall of Fame, the names of the four other players were read before Shaw's.

"I knew the up-or-down vote on the senior candidate comes first," he said, "so I thought if I were elected my name would be read first. When it wasn't my heart fell to my knees.

"I had some friends over to the house to watch the announcement with Patty and me. When they finally did read my name, we went berserk. We cried, and slapped hands and did what old folks do."

For many years Shaw's major booster for the Hall was Ron Wolf, general manager of the Green Bay Packers. Wolf, who has been in pro football for 36 years, says "Billy is one of the two best guards I've ever seen."

Another whose endorsement helped Shaw with the voters was Hall of Fame linebacker Bobby Bell of Kansas City, who played against him many times. "When you had a game against the Bills, you had to bring your lunch because Billy would battle you for the entire game."

The NFL will bring the Shaws and the other enshrinees to Hawaii next week for the Pro Bowl festivities. He will be inducted in Canton, Ohio, in early August.

"I'm glad that Tom Mack is going in with me," said Shaw.

Mack, a Los Angeles Rams' guard who was chosen for 11 Pro Bowls, had been eligible for election for 25 years. It's difficult for offensive linemen, the most unsung of football players, to get into the Hall. This was his final chance as a "modern" candidate. Next year he would have gone into the senior pool.

"I don't know Tom, but he's a compadre, a fellow guard, and I felt a kinship with him," said Shaw.

Even though Marv Levy, the Bills' retired coach, didn't get enough votes for election he drew formidable support for a candidate who was eligible for the first time. The atmosphere in the meeting room suggested Levy still has a good chance for election.

After the case is made for each candidate, there is debate, pro and con, among the 36 voters. Not only did Levy draw strong support, there were no negative sentiments about his candidacy.

The voting process pares down the list of 15 modern candidates to the final 10. Levy, made that list but he failed to survive the vote down to the final six.

What might have hurt his chances this time was that another coach, the late George Allen, was on the ballot along with an admired owner, Dan Rooney of the Steelers. They also made the final 10. The sentiment in the room was to elect players first this time. None of the non-players made it.

Ironically, for years Levy has been asking voters to support the candidacy of Allen, his mentor with the Washington Redskins.

"If Marv were in this room today," said one voter, "he'd probably be pushing Allen ahead of himself."

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